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You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28)

June 2020 Newsletter

WWW.GOSPELMUSICFESTIVALS.COM

This Month's Featured Writer

Steve Patterson

CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you (A)concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting (B)you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

As with most people, I did not come to faith dramatically or instantly. It was not an " Aha" moment. I did not have a holy vision. It happened over a period of time.

I was raised in the United Presbyterian Church, which is referred to as a liberal, mainline denomination. I was baptized as an infant. I attended Sunday School until I was about 17 or18. I was confirmed as an official member at age 13.

Our house was probably pretty normal. Mom went to Sunday School. Dad stayed home and worked in the garage, usually on cars. At least, that was normal in our church from the guys I knew.

I liked Sunday School as a child but less as a teenager. It was boring. That's probably why I never heard about the cross of Jesus Christ. I most likely was daydreaming, like in public school.

I must say, I was shocked when, in, preparation to join the church, I did learn about the crucifixion of Jesus and His powerful, cleansing blood. It really upset me!

Confirmation was very special to me. Though I did not become a learned believer, I loved Jesus.

After confirmation, I made the decision to attend church regularly. Nobody made me or had to force me. This was something which, in later years, caught the attention of the woman who became my wife.

My friend, Harold and I, sat in the balcony and were often asked to be ushers, which we gladly did. We felt important! Did we learn anything? Only God knows.

I had no real relationship with either parent. My mother seemed skiddish to talk to me and my dad just didn't. Mom made a fleeting attempt at teaching me about the birds and the bees by handing me a book entitled THE STORK DIDNT BRING YOU. I didn't need a book to know that but, as Merle Haggard sang, Mama tried.

I think my mother was a frustrated woman. I recall two times when she " freaked out". I think one time was a " post- partum " thing. It happened just after my sister was born.

I don't know about the second time, but she threatened to drive us into a tree and kill us all!

Dad kept to himself. Who knows what he was hiding from or trying to suppress. He was in WWII. He fought in Germany. He never talked about it much. Maybe he had PTSD or just bad memories.

Dad did recall how, as a truck driver, pulling a 40mm machine gun, he ran over and killed a soldier during night maneuvers. It wasn't his fault but they discontinued that afterwards.

My being a shy kid and tall made me a target for bullies. Smaller, more aggressive kids picked on me to prove they could beat up a bigger kid. My dad just made fun of me when I told him.

Because I was tired of being bullied, I got my friend, Doug, to spar with me after school. Dad bought me boxing gloves when I was 8 years old. They were half the size of official 16 ounce gloves.

Doug was about 30 pounds heavier than me and stronger. I had to be quick and hit him more times than he hit me. It worked well but for the fact that I didn't learn to block a punch since we made a rule not to hit the face. Otherwise, I don't think our sparring days would have lasted long.

My dad used to say, about Doug, " He'll kick your butt", but our bouts were even up. As usual, I learned how to avoid getting hurt because I had to. That's how I generally learned. I'm sure we all did, to a point. That's how I learned to shift gears: three on the tree.

Dad was a good mechanic and he rebuilt the motor of our old family car, a 1955 FORD Station Wagon. Just before it came time to turn the car over to me, he took me out in his ' 54 FORD to learn how to shift gears. After popping the clutch and stalling twice, he said " Do that again and I'll kick your ...!" I shifted and pulled away like a pro!

In the USAF boot camp, on the rifle range, I received the same threat from the Range Instructor. I immediately sank the required amount of shots to the target and a few on my neighbor's target, per the instructor's command, " Put a couple in Cincinnati's target. He's not going to make it. I made Marksman.

I was drinking underage. It was a challenge and an adventure. One night, this guy came in the bar and invited me to his wife's church, Church Of The Nazarene in nearby Fairview Village, PA. I " accepted the Lord". It was 1971.I did feel something. I can't say it was wonderful. Maybe it was just another religious experience on my way to know Jesus! Something did definitely happen.

I struggled with the challenge of telling my parents. This was not the " presbyterian way" and I am sure that my mother considered me ""saved" since I was confirmed. I think my mom thought like a woman from the Lutheran church who said " being born again is for drunks and drug addicts"!

I was married the first time in 1973. My fiance was a member of a UCC church. The pastor at the Nazarene church advised me not to marry her for our differences in belief. Twenty- nine years and two children later, I realized he had a good point.

I was spiraling downward. I went from marrying a nominal Christian to an agnostic. Sex was involved. I was from the old school where you married a woman if she was good enough to have sex with. Actually, that was one reason why I married the first time.

The second marriage failed after about 10 years of combined cohabitation and marriage. Both times, it was my wives who chose to leave. I. believe it was divine deliverance!

The Lord had been working in me and on me and now I was ready to get serious. I began by helping support an orphanage in Haiti. Then, I returned to the same Nazarene Church to attend a Monday evening program called The Journey. It was there that I met Joan who became my wife.

Joan was married to a guy who deceived her into bed and got her pregnant and, as often is the case, turned out not to be the man of God he proposed to be. She stayed married to him for their children's sake and because their church said there can be no divorce.

I did not take particular notice to Joan at the time. I was in an online relationship and Joan was a married woman. I learned later that she admired me for coming to church alone, on my own, not being dragged or nagged. She always wanted a REAL man of God is how she put it.

We became friends after some time but were in no way dating or having an affair. We attended a Bible Study which her husband later decided to attend. I can't blame him! But he was an old friend of the man running the Bible Study.

I had begun preaching the gospel over the Internet on Facebook. That's how I met Bob Olynyk. He was a mutual friend of a friend Evangelist Kemigisa Dinah who founded a ministry for orphans and widows in Uganda.

After a few months of supporting her ministry, she and her pastor invited me to come and preach. I told them I'm not a preacher but they said I was according to my Facebook posts.

It appeared as though the Lord was leading me into the ministry into which he had called me about 50 plus years earlier!

I went to Uganda under the anointing of God with the encouragement of a brother who said, " God will give you a message!" He did and about 30 souls came forward to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.

" The gifts and the calling are without repentance". God thrust me into ministry in a land 7000 miles from home. But, as Jesus said, " A prophet is without honor in his own country". The people of Cornerstone Church of Fort Portal, Uganda hold me in high esteem. They know it is the Lord at work and they recognize " Christ in me". That's how it should be " No longer I, but Christ".

I was blessed to do some preaching and teaching here in the USA. Mainly, I put songs together from Scripture and preach the true gospel on Facebook.

I quit fistfighting at age 17 but I am a fighter by inward conviction, not nature. As the Lord's half brother Jude advised, I continue to "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints."


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